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Full text of "NightRider"

320

she taught the youngest boys in the academy. They were all
different—Perdita, Isabella, Cordelia. But, to Mr. Munn,
Cordelia especially.

Sometimes Mr. Munn had wondered how a man like
Doctor MacDonald had married a woman like Cordelia.
Everything about them seemed different. Ordinarily, you
would expect to find Doctor MacDonald's wife a very young,
pretty, high-spirited woman, very dark or very blonde, posi-
tive anyway, and with a streak of fun. The way Doctor
MacDonald cocked a cigar or stuck a pipe between his teeth,
the way he sat a horse, the relish he took in things, the dash
about him, his grin, all of those things would lead you to
expect in his wife something different from Cordelia. She was
not very young, thirty, perhaps. She had been getting on
toward being an old maid when Doctor MacDonald married
her, wrapped up in her household tasks, watching the
younger men come to see her sisters Perdita and Isabella,
sitting at church with her father and Portia, not with Viola
and her husband or with Perdita and Isabella, who would be
sitting with a couple of their suitors. And she was quiet and
grave, like all the sisters. She was, at first glance certainly,
plain, with her dark dresses buttoned up to the neck by that
careful and forbidding row of buttons, and her eyes downcast,
and her hands folded on her lap. But Doctor MacDonald,
whose eyes would wander toward her when she sat apart from
him, had married her, and Mr. Munn began, finally, to feel that
he understood why. She was precisely the one thing Doctor
MacDonald, during those mysterious earlier years—about
which he never talked except to give some offhand, isolated
anecdote, the years in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Mexico—
had not had, and now had easily, complacently, and casually.
Her qualities, her gravity, her earnestness, her restraint, her
downcast eyes—those were the things best designed to chal-
lenge him and, in the end, to engage him. She was somewhat
like those small, dull, compact apples that in the flush of the
harvest are passed over almost with scorn, but late in the
winter, when the fine, brightly coloured fruit has grown too